Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea among local TV locations

TV sets in shop Jeremy Hunt said there was a 'huge appetite for local news and information'

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More than 800,000 homes across 11 communities in Wales could get new local TV services, say UK ministers.

Those able to bid for licences include Cardiff, with coverage to include Bridgend and Newport; Mold, which includes Denbigh and Ruthin, and Swansea with Llanelli.

Bangor, Carmarthen and Haverfordwest can also bid.

Wales Office Minister David Jones MP said it had "huge potential" for how Welsh towns would access news.

Mr Jones said it was a "very exciting time for broadcasting in Wales" and would strengthen the ability of communities to hold their representatives to account.

"I encourage local communities in Bangor, Cardiff, Carmarthen, Haverfordwest, Mold and Swansea to make the case for local TV in their area," he said.

LOCAL TV LOCATIONS IN WALES

  • Bangor - 22,000 households
  • Cardiff, coverage to include Bridgend and Newport - 500,000 households
  • Carmarthen - 51,000 homes
  • Haverfordwest - 25,000 homes
  • Mold - to include Denbigh, Ruthin - 89,000 households
  • Swansea - also to include Llanelli -116,000 households
  • Source: DCMS

Six Welsh areas - covering 11 towns and cities - are on a longlist of 65 locations across the UK in the running to pioneer the UK's first local TV services.

The Cardiff coverage would include Newport and Bridgend; the Swansea coverage would include Llanelli, while Mold's coverage is expected to include Denbigh and Ruthin.

'Huge appetite'

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is keen to mirror the concept of US-style local television in the UK.

In the US many cities, rather than wider regions, have their own news and entertainment coverage, a model Mr Hunt wishes to embody here.

Mr Hunt said: "These new, local TV services will be a fundamental change in how people get information about their own communities, and how they hold their representatives to account.

"There's a huge appetite for local news and information in communities the length and breadth of the country.

"I want people to be able to watch television that's truly relevant to them, about what's happening where they live and featuring the people they know."

This is Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's big idea.

He argues that the one gap in British broadcasting is that of local TV.

What Mr Hunt is announcing today is a step along the road to changing all that and he will announce 65 towns and cities, including several in Wales.

There's £40m from the licence fee in terms of start-up costs but Mr Hunt wants these projects to be self-sustaining, so advertising is one route.

In other countries the channels have got money from cable providers but there are going to start off by just broadcasting a couple of hours of TV a day and we won't see them on TV for a couple of years yet.

The first licences will be open to bidders in a few months' time and will be awarded after the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has judged the level of interest from potential broadcasters and audiences.

The views of companies who are interested in bidding for the single multiplex licence will also be sought.

Around £40m of licence fee money has been earmarked for start-up costs but projects will need to be self-sustaining.

Over the next few weeks a series of events will be held in different areas aimed at encouraging local communities to bid for the licences, which will be awarded next year.

The Welsh TV Summit with Mr Hunt will be held in Cardiff on 26 August.

David Elstein, former chief executive of Channel 5, told BBC Radio Wales the latest version of the plans was a "bottom up, top down" approach, for anyone with a viable business plan.

He said: "My personal view is that this will only work when we have fully rolled-out broadband and the internet delivers our content.

"Then you won't need a local TV station but what you will click onto is highly-localised content, be it news or entertainment, delivered at the lowest possible cost and without all the trappings of a traditional broadcast system."

But Alun Ffred Jones, Plaid Assembly Member for Arfon and Wales' former culture minister, questioned why there was a need for a local television "masterplan".

He said: "It's fine in theory but is it practical?

"If it does happen it will need to happen in a different manner and at a different economic time."

Do you live in one of the areas? Would you like to see more local news and information?

I hope NEWPORT wins one of the licences, Cant wait to get involved if they do.

Martyn Butler, Newport, Wales

i think its a great idea and it will bring more jobs to the area.

suzanna blakeley, anglesey

what an marvellous oppotunity this will be providing local information to many more people not just those able to purchase local newspapers. This will I hope also provide local businesses the opportunity to advertise to local people improving the local economy whislt financing the local station.

Susan John, Swansea

Mid Wales missing out again!Local TV!!!!??? Can still only receive a few Freeview programmes 12 months after inception in this area. Oh dear! Where are the priorities?

Ken Williams, Llandrindod Wells

Wales doesn't need local TV stations, we need fair coverage of the whole of Wales by the our media that represents the North, South, East & West and that means proper regional stations in both languages that represents North Wales, Mid and south & west Wales then merging into a proper Welsh national Station not where as present we receive the so called BBC network news first in which it often reports news biased towards English news & sports over the other nations. We get our Cardiff centric, mickey mouse news transmitted from a set built for a penny that reports only small news. At least S4C has a bigger outlook and reports proper all Wales news & stories from around the globe like other normal countries do. No! to the Tories small minded ideas with Local stations and Yes! to proper Welsh regional stations merging into a proper National Station in Wales that comes first before the BBC news!

Richard Ap'Davies, Swansea (Abertawe)

Absolutely love this idea - just hope BBC and ITV can help out with these bids as well so that the coverage can be as professional and watchable as possible.

John Price, Cardiff

Why not have a full coverage all over wales of the existing channels, why should wee pay the same amount of licence fee and only get a third of what others get. Wee pay the same amount so lets get the same amount of channels.

R Pritchard, Bala

HTV used to broadcast from Mold I recall as a kid from Theatre Clwyd as it was then. I would welcome some local stories that are relevant to me rather than the generic news we see on the box at the moment. I would probably watch the news then rather than just read it. There may be opportunity for some local programming as well which would be fun. Documentaries on local attractions or places would be great heck I may even get involved, sounds fun.

Andrew Lindop, Connahs Quay

Can we have broadband first please?

John Griffiths, Caernarfon, Wales

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